Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: FG Bans Importation of Raw Sugar From January 1

MINISTER of Trade and Investments, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, Monday, said the Federal Government has concluded plans to ban the importation of raw sugar with effect from January 1, 2013.

He also disclosed the government expects to generate $17.4 billion in 2013 from planned introduction of weight measuring in some sectors of economy, in 2013, while also saving the nation $3 billion within the same period.

Aganga who spoke at the Ministry of Trade & Investments' second annual seminar for Industry Correspondents and Group Business Editors in Abuja said the proposed ban on all sugar in retail packages was part of the federal government's National Sugar Master Plan. Currently, there are two major investors in sugar industry which are Dangote Sugar Refinery and Bua Sugar Refinery.

The minister noted that objectives of the National Sugar Master Plan include raising local sugar production to attain self sufficiency, stemming the tide of high level importation, creating of huge number of job opportunities, as well as contributing to the production of ethanol and generation of electricity.

He explained that currently 98 percent of brown sugar which are refined into white sugar is imported into the country from Brazil, adding: "All these are going to change next year as only investors who are committed to backward integration in the sugar sector will be given licence to import certain quotas into the country in order to augment local production.

"We want to replicate the success story of backward integration policy in the cement industry in the sugar industry. We won't allow the importation of brown sugar again from 2013."

Elaborating on the National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP), the Executive Secretary, National Sugar Development Council, Abuja, Dr. Latif Busari, emphasised that the council would adopt high graduated tariff structure on sugar importation, mandatory backward integration programme for refineries, provision of investors-specific incentives to discourage importation of raw brown sugar and attract investors into the sector.

He listed other strategies to include regulation of the entire regime of sugar importation through quota allocation benchmark on local; production, robust monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure compliance with milestones and time-lines and enlargement of the sugarcane value chain players.

Foreign direct investment

Busari said the ban was expected to attract an estimated $3.1 billion foreign direct investment into the country, deepen banking sector via increased loan syndication, savings of foreign exchange on sugar imports and earnings on sugar exports to be deployed to other critical sector.

He said that with backward integration in sugar, 1.8 million tonnes of sugar and 161.2 million litres of ethanol annually would be locally produced per annum. It is also expected to create 37,378 permanent jobs and 79,803 seasonal jobs, save $65.8 million in foreign exchange on fuel imports annually, and $350 to $500 million in foreign exchange on sugar imports annually.

On metering through weights and measures, Aganga said that the regulation was introduced to checkmate cheating of Nigerians both in public and private sectors, stressing that it would first be implemented in the oil and gas and will extended to other sectors later.

He said: "The regulation if well implemented will save the economy more than $3 billion and $17 billion in revenue by 2013. Before now, we have been relying on UNCTAD data for information on new investments that come into the country, but from January 2013, we will no longer rely on UNCTAD data."

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